Friday, October 19, 2007

Jay's Cafe Again

Oh my God, Jay's is my new favorite restaurant! We had an absolutely FLAWLESS dinner there again. Absolutely amazing. As a matter of fact, right now, I'm proclaiming myself president of the official Jay's Cafe fan club and will be distributing buttons and copies of phony autographed head shots. There will be weekly emails sent directly to you, telling you all about how totally freaking AWESOME Jay's is and we all want to marry them.

Last night I was lucky enough to meet up with my dear Matthew, who I hadn't seen at all for the entire week. It was a long, dull, sad week. There was a lot of moping on the couch, occassionally hissing at the stove and mindless TV. There might have been some drooling and moaning, too. I'm sure you were feeling the affects of this weather, too! How can you not get a little gloomy when all you see is rain and gray and fog and misery in the skies every morning? And when did it start getting dark so early? It's dark when I get up in the morning. It's dark as soon as I'm home from work and it's dark in the depths of my sensitive little soul. I almost broke out the Edgar Allen Poe and was considering scratching meaningful words into my forearm with a paperclip when Matt called to say he'd gotten Thursday night off from work. Faster than you can say, "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow..." I was on the phone with Jay's making reservations.

At 7:00 sharp, I met him on a dimly lit street corning, huddling under his umbrella. The swirling rain and velveteen black sky did nothing to darken the shining smile hidden under that maroon and gold umbrella. Thank the heavens, I got my husband back!

We giggled like school kids stealing away between periods. Arms wrapped around each other walking up to the restaurant, our bodies were bumping and rolling away from each other like pinballs.

There weren't too many people inside, but I was glad I made a reservation. We were seated again at the little table by the front window. The light was warm and soft, the acoustics toned down. It appeared that most of the other people in there had some sort of affiliation with the U. The waitresses were students nearing graduation and another couple looked to be professors. There was another couple resembling us in the back corner. I overheard from their conversation that they were young, but had already been married four years. I nudged Matt, "Go ask them where they live."


"They're people like us! We need to find out if they live around here. Maybe this is where we should move."

He looked at me, with that funny look on his face that I know is all mine. His eyes were telling me that I was being ridculous, but it was much to his amusement. He looks at me like that a lot.

We again ordered the mussles because - I mean really, how could we not? Again they were outstanding. These mussles should make those pitiful little mollusks at Mahattan's weep with their pathetic blandness. Not that I didn't enjoy my time there on Monday, but these were amazing. We inhaled them, sopping up bits of tomato and leek from the creamy wine infused broth. I was drinking a Tomassi Valpolicella, which is kind of a weird thing to order for a starting wine, but Laura's early mockery of my wine selection some how got me to order an Italian wine I thought she'd approve of. And while it was good, it was too strong for the meal.

So, I did what any sensible girl would do. I tossed it back and ordered a Moon Mountain, Cabernet. (Doesn't that sound like Jerry Garcia's girlfriend?) This wine was so amazingly good and simple. It was much lighter with a more complex flavor.
For entrees we decided to eat a little light... well, Matt ate light. He had the house cured salmon with pickled onions and a light horseradish cream sauce on "crackers." What he got was a little round pizza crust with a thin layer of sauce, ribbons of melt away salmon and little bright purple pieces of onion. One bite and Matt exclaimed, "Alchemy!" This confused the profs next to us, but they tried not to stare. It was perfectly balanced, though. Just a hint of a bite of the horseradish - a nibble, if you will. The gravlax was so tender and so mild it made me wish we could have had this for breakfast. The onions were bright and tart, in perfect contrast to the rich cream. Everything was right, and everything was in its place. Outstanding. The only thing is that it is a little bit small. This is probably why it was listed as an appetizer.

No matter, because the pizza I ordered was enough for both of us after those mussles. It was a super thin, super crisp crust with a thin layer of tomato sauce topped with locally sourced bacon, thick cut into little chunks, walnuts reduced to a creamy, nutty flavor bit, mild and saucy gorgonzola cheese with little thin slices of apple. The tomato sauce and the rest might seem as though they wouldn't work, but they positively sing when united.

When the server presented me with my gooey, steamy, crispy, bacony meal it was all I could do not to start gorging myself while she was still at the table. But she lingered as I was massaging the cheese with my eyes. She apologized for the pizza and said it was done more than they would have liked it to be. What? There was one edge that was a little black and that was it. If I'd been at any number of other restaurants that serve little gourmet pizzas, one little black corner wouldn't have caused a batted eyelash. Clearly, the pizza wasn't even close to being ruined. It still looked gorgeous to me.

"We'd like to get you a dessert."

Really? She smiled and walked away. I was baffled. Free dessert? For this? Hmm... Okay! I enjoyed each decadent, sweet, smokey, salty, golden, crispy bite of my pizza. We only finished half of it, but I was already looking forward to feasting on the rest for breakfast.

All of the desserts sounded lovely, but I had to go with the pot au creme. It was so good. I mean, seriously - SO GOOD. The top was a chocolate cake consistency, but as my spoon dove down there were soft layers of boyount mousse topped with a rich homemade whip creme. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a dessert so much.*

We sat and savored. I sipped my wine and he his Schell's. I loved that the chocolate wasn't so overly sweet that I couldn't take a sip of water and go back to my wine. It actually changed the flavor just a bit, but made the wine even better.

We lingered, fingers knitting and released before twining again across the table. Looking out the window, the lights were streaked and everything around us was reduced to a vague, Impressionist rendition of reality. It was easy to believe that we were not in St. Paul, bordered by freeways, but actually just off a little street somewhere in Greenwhich Village. A romanticized reality on an blissful night.

*(Well, except of course for my Mom in law's chocolate cake that we had on Sunday - she won 2nd prize at the State Fair with it. If you see her, ask her about that - the joy of five children long since raised has waned, but the cake triumph will live for forever.)


At 10:51 PM , OpenID dudewheresthestove said...

Jay's is THE BOMB. I only ask you one thing: please try the breakfast. I'll have to try the mussels sometime. Oh, and I could be the secretary or treasurer of the fan club. Jay's hasn't been around very long, and I'm just hoping that Dara Moskowitz reviews them someday - I think this restaurant is a superstar, deserving proper recognition.


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